Do you work for a manager who is unapproachable and extremely difficult? Having a good rapport with someone involves developing a positive and productive relationship where you both have a genuine camaraderie. If you have a difficult manager, you may be wondering if that is humanly possible to build such a positive rapport with this individual. It may be a Herculean task, but it is possible. You need to make a diligent effort to look beyond flaws and every behavior that you simply cannot stand. After all, your difficult manager is not perfect and neither are you.
See Also: How to Build Rapport in the Workplace
That doesn’t mean you necessarily want to develop a close bond with this manager. Yet, if you do, you’ll greatly increase your own chances of succeeding in the workplace. You never know…you might one day replace this difficult manager and become one yourself! Take a closer look at your current workplace situation and consider how you can begin to build a positive rapport with this difficult manager.
1. Own the Relationship
If your difficult manager hasn’t made any effort to build a positive rapport with you yet, then it’s very unlikely that he’s going to start now. Accept the fact that this individual probably doesn’t have the best people skills (if he possesses any). Yet, he’s still you’re manager. There’s nothing you can do to change that fact. Unless you decide to quit your job that is, but I’d say that’s a bit dramatic. What you need to do is to own the relationship. And by that I mean consider yourself to be the owner of the relationship with your manager and as such it’s your responsibility to manage the relationship and make sure that you develop a positive rapport.
Demonstrate your ownership of the relationship by making a decision to do whatever is necessary to build a positive rapport. Maybe you’ll need to consider various ways to show your boss that you’re serious about owning the relationship. For example, simply showing up each day and making an effort to communicate with your boss will show that you hold the relationship in high esteem and want to make it more productive. That doesn’t mean that you should cut out paper hearts and hold them up every time you see him passing by your cubicle, but a simple good morning and a how are you will do the trick. If your boss is too caught up in his own little (yet corporate) world, you may need to remind yourself daily about your ownership of the relationship so that you continue to work toward building that rapport.
If you don’t take ownership of the relationship each day, you will fail at achieving your own professional career goals. Your manager will also fail because he hasn’t been able to properly manage you as an employee. As the owner of the relationship, you should realize that you need to cultivate a mindset that fosters symbiotic benefits to both you and your manager. So if you feel too gloomy one day to deal with your manager’s negative attitude toward you, don’t lose heart, rather run down to Starbucks and get yourself and your manager a treat.
2. Nurture the Relationship
In addition to owning the relationship with your difficult manager, you need to nurture it. Without love and attention the relationship won’t grow. Ok, so love might be a strong word, but you get the idea. But consider this, if you don’t spend time with your significant other, your relationship won’t grow, right? The same theory applies to building a positive rapport with your manager. Now, you don’t need to spend every waking hour with this individual. That would be kind of creepy and stalker-esque and you might end up with a restraining order. Besides, if you were with your manager all day long, you wouldn’t be getting any actual work done. Not a good way to build a positive rapport with your manager. You nurture the relationship by building trust and demonstrating your reliability as an employee. Come to work at least fifteen minutes early each day and be ready to start on time. You nurture the relationship by coming to work actually ready to perform to your optimal potential.
Don’t work in a sloppy manner. Finish your assignments on time within all deadlines. Under-promise and over-deliver should be your new work philosophy. Show your boss that you can be trusted to handle big projects for major clients. When you have problems while completing your daily tasks, seek help before it’s too late and you royally mess up. You nurture the relationship and build a positive rapport by learning how to effectively communicate with your manager. Come to him with creative solutions for negative problems you’ve encountered in the workplace.
Nurture the relationship by finding ways to spend quality time with your manager. Your manager may be difficult, but he is fallible just like you and experiences emotions and frustrations the same way that you do. If you feel weird about inviting your manager to have lunch with you, consider inviting a few other colleagues along. You may not want to spend an entire lunch hour with this manager, so get creative. Figure out when your manager usually goes to the company cafeteria or break room. Time your lunch once a week to coincide with his. You don’t want to just happen to run into her each day because he’ll start to think you’re stalking him. That’s certainly not an effective way to build positive rapport.
3. Test the Relationship
Before you think it’s ok to test your manager by asking him for personal time off on the day of a big client presentation, think again. Testing the relationship is another part of the process toward building that positive rapport with your difficult manager. You will encounter roadblocks while trying to build the rapport. Those roadblocks become stepping stones that test the viability of your professional relationship with your manager. If you can weather those relational storms, you will be able to build a positive rapport.
You test your relationship by creating situations where you can see how your manager will react to you. Be mindful of the fact that these testing situations do not involve consciously trying to sabotage work projects on purpose simply to see how your manager will react. That’s completely off track with your goals. You want to create testing situations that do not negatively impact your workplace performance. If you don’t test the relationship, you won’t find out how far along your rapport has developed and where you still need to work on things with your manager.
Consider testing the relationship by coming to your manager with a new project idea that you have which will increase the productivity of your department by making things run more efficiently. If you manager reacts in a more positive manner to your suggestions, contrary to his usual grumpy and difficult reaction, you’ve made progress. Your professional rapport is developing on track. Test the relationship by asking your manager to assess your current workplace performance, outside of the annual review. If your manager is overly critical and then begins to start micromanaging you again, you’ve been unsuccessful in building your positive rapport. Success will come when your usually difficult manager starts to change his perspective of you and begins to manage in a more constructive manner.
See Also: How to Gain Rapport with a Boss You Hate
Building a positive rapport with a difficult manager will take work, but the rewards will be worth the effort. Start the process by owning the relationship. If your rapport is negative, reason tells you that your boss is not interested in creating a positive relationship, that means it is all up to you to make a difference. You need to nurture the relationship and create situations where you can build the rapport with your manager. Work to your optimal potential each day to demonstrate to your manager that you are serious and want to build a positive rapport with him. Test the relationship to measure your progress. Without an effective evaluation, you will have no real idea where you’re at in your professional relationship and where you need to go in order to build the positive rapport.
Have you tried to build a positive rapport with a difficult manager? How did the process go?